With ‘D’ being Disaster – almost!!
As the chicks have been exercising their wings more and more, and getting on top of the nestbox on Monday, the first flight has been imminent, all tying in with the normal fledging time we’d calculated from when we thought the eggs had been laid.
On a quick check on my way into work I bumped into Vic Gibson set up to watch what he felt would be the day the chicks took their first flight, and he was to be proved right!
At lunchtime I had a call from staff in our office to tell me that one of the chicks had flown, but that things had not gone to plan… I hot-footed it to St George’s to find a small crowd gathered at the foot of one of the trees by the church. Among them was Jim Lonsdale from the Dept of Estates, who’s led on the construction and siting of the nest platform and dedicated many hours to the successful outcome of the Peregrine Project. He was worried… The female chick had taken its maiden flight, headed downwards and landed in a tree. From there it had tried to fly back up to the nest area, failed to land and flown/ dropped back down to another tree, ending up only about 4-5 metres from the ground. To make matters worse, it was being severely mobbed by a couple of Magpies, one of which was pulling as its tail feathers while the other stayed in front of the head. Look North then arrived, just in time to film some great shots of the birds, which are becoming quite the local celebrities.
The Magpies were successfully dispersed with some help from the Estates team, and the young Peregrine moved out towards the end of the branches. Unfortunately the only way to take flight from the position it was in would take it out over Broad Lane, and with confidence in its ability to fly shaky at best there was considerable concern that it could end up on the road, or on the front of a passing car. A call to Nick Dixon, a national expert on urban Peregrines, confirmed that it was best to leave things as they were, not try to intervene, and hope the young bird would find its way to a better perch.
After several hours it eventually flew out of the tree and made it back onto the lowest ledge of the church, much to the relief of all present.
Meanwhile, the male chick continued to exercise his wings, and at about 8 p.m. took his first flight, which carried him all of a metre across to the ledge that runs around the top of the tower. The adult male flew in with food shortly after this, and after failing to encourage the chick to fly across to him, delivered dinner onto the ledge. Over the next half hour, the chick shuffled all of the way around the ledge, and back again, ending up perched by the nest platform.
What will tomorrow hold? Some exciting sights, to be sure!